The Culinary Arts Program at Kapiolani Community College offers these cooking classes in June. All include instruction and hands-on cooking. Call 734-9211.
Soups II: Learn to create the three main types of soup -- clear, thick, and specialty -- with Chef Grant Sato; 8 a.m. to noon June 3. Cost is $60.
Breads: Chef Abigail Langlas teaches the art and science bread baking; 1 to 5 p.m. June 3. Cost is $60.
Macro Fast Food: Learn recipes for entrées, soups, side dishes and desserts with whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruit and natural sweeteners -- in about 30 minutes; 1 to 5 p.m. June 3. Cost is $45.
Cooking for the Single Person: Basic techniques and some quick recipes; 6 to 9 p.m. June 5. Cost is $55.
Market to Table Culinary Tour: Chef Grant Sato guides a tour of Chinatown's open markets, followed by a cooking class at KCC; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 10. Cost is $90.
Kevin's Southern Flair I: With Kevin Tate of Kevin's Two Boots; 8 a.m. to noon June 10. Cost is $55.
Living Off the Land Culinary Tour: Tour a farm with chef Grant Sato, then return to KCC for a cooking class; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 17. Cost is $90.
Center of the Plate: Chef Dale Thomas explains how to prepare and show off your main dish; 6 to 9 p.m. June 21. Cost is $52.
Cookies: Learn to make several types of cookies with chef Mark Silva. 8 a.m. to noon June 24. Cost is $60.
Fresh and Healthy Summer Salads: 8 a.m. to noon June 24. Cost is $45.
Cooking with Fish: Covers preparation of near-shore and open-ocean fish, from purchasing tips and butchery to handling and storage; 6 to 9 p.m. June 26. Cost is $55.
BITTERMELON AND SEQUA
Veggie mixup causes a stir
It's the simple things that get you in trouble. Last week, in this space, a few words were said about Okinawan food. We attempted to pretty up the piece with the use of a photograph of a bittermelon.
Problem is, it wasn't a bittermelon, it was an impostor! A sneaky impersonator! OK, it was just another vegetable.
But readers out there know their long, green, squash-like edibles, and quite a few pointed out the error -- some weren't very nice about it, either (sheesh, haven't you ever made a mistake?). But anyway, in an effort to snatch something educational from the jaws of error, today we examine bittermelon versus sequa.
You can see from the photographs (bittermelon on the left, sequa on the right) the visual similarities (cylindrical, green) and differences (bumpy vs. ridged).
They are not at all similar in taste. Bittermelon is -- surprise! -- bitter, for which it is valued in many Asian cuisines, especially Okinawan (under the name goya) and Filipino (pariya or ampalaya). To moderate the bitterness, it may be blanched or lightly salted before cooking.
Bittermelon is the crucial ingredient in Okinawan champuru and Filipino pinakbet.
Sequa -- also called Chinese okra, silk squash and dishrag or dishcloth gourd -- is mild, similar to zucchini in taste and in its ability to absorb other flavors in a dish. It is used in salads, soups, stews and stir-fries.
Now, here's a dichotomy: Bittermelon is at its most bitter when the plant is young; allowed to ripen, its flavor is much milder. When sequa matures, it gets bitter!
More miscellaneous facts:
» Bittermelon is considered to have medicinal qualities that vary by culture, from lowering blood sugar to treating intestinal infections.
» Sequa, allowed to fully mature, can be processed into a sponge commonly called a loofah.